15 October 2019

Raymond Fairchild, 15 Mar. 1939-13 Oct. 2019 (update)

The BIB learns with great regret from Bluegrass Today of the death of Raymond Fairchild of Cherokee, NC, whose mastery of the banjo resembled Scotty Stoneman's of the fiddle. Biographical details, together with YouTube videos of two of his instrumental showpieces, 'Whoa mule' and 'Shucking the corn', are included in John Lawless's obituary.

A feature in Banjo News Letter about an event where Raymond was playing told how the road out of the festival grounds was lined with men with tears in their eyes, offering to take their banjos to pieces and sell them for spare parts. He was half-Cherokee, and in one of Alan Lomax's film documentaries of Southern music, Raymond was asked whether he was proud of his Cherokee heritage. He replied promptly: ' Yes sir, and I'm proud of being a banjo-picker too!'

Update 16 Feb. 2022: For his actual words, see the BIB for 2 Nov. 2021. See also Richard Thompson's feature on Bluegrass Today yesterday (15 Feb.), indicating that work on a biography of Raymond is beginning.

© Richard Hawkins

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